It’s a technology that dates back to the 1960s. 3-D printing has allowed people to create a wide array of objects.
But now it is becoming more affordable and more accessible to the public.
John Miralles has worked as the Director for the Animation and Visual Effects Program at LSU-Shreveport for 5 years. He has been able to improve the program by obtaining a Dimensional Elite 3-D printing machine through a $45,000 federal grant.
The machine makes objects out of plastic from three dimensional computer files. The files come from a software program on a regular computer and than are inserted into the machine.
Miralles says there 3-D printer serves one main use.
“We use it primarily with content creation software like we use to create animation and visual effects and video game assets, we take those parts and we put them through a specialized software and than we create physical models of them in the real world,” said Miralles.
Objects made by the printer can take up to a day to make. Miralles says while his program benefits from the printer for more creative uses, that a wide variety of industries are now using them.
“Everyone from the aerospace industry, the automotive industry, the medical field, the military, there’s wide application for the technology,” said Miralles.
One industry here locally that has frequently used 3-D printing is Moonbot Studios. Creative Director Limbert Fabian says this technology allows for more experimentation.
“Mostly for us the use of the 3-D printer is for experimenting and taking a look to see if our ideas are making sense,” said Fabian.
The cost has also driven the appeal, with some printers now being available for $1,000. Fabian says that has allowed for funds to be put into other efforts.
“If having access to modeling and creating reference or these little mini models is not as expensive than we can use those funds and energy toward the other things like really crafting a good story,” said Fabian.
3-D printers have also been used to make objects, such as full-size statues, and Aston Martins, like the one seen in the movie “Skyfall,” and wall sections for houses.
The 3-D printer LSU-Shreveport has been able to obtain has also been a useful recruiting tool.
Currently, the Fine Arts program has 75 students with another 40 in the Digital Media program.